The new issue of Fortune Magazine includes their annual section about the best advice people have ever received. It touches on both business and life issues. Reading it made me think about the best advice that I have ever received. This idea of advice also plays into the upcoming (February 2013) NBAA Leadership Conference theme of “Leaving a Legacy” and what advice those people passing the torch of leadership in a flight department want to impart upon their peers.
I am lucky to have received a lot of great advice over the years from my parents, teachers, friends, clients and colleagues. And, I have spoken about some of it in my blogs before like “in a negotiation, work to turn a square table into a round table” The piece of advice that stands out in my mind today is that “life is about what you do when no one else is watching”. As a child my father had a framed typed story in his office about a jockey and his racehorse. The world only watched them for 60 seconds or less at a time when they were actually racing, but it was the countless hours, days, months and years that they spent training that made them successful. I can’t say that I always embraced the idea of quiet dedication when no one is watching when I was growing up. If I had, my high school grades might have reflected it more. I now know, however, how critical it is in all aspects of life to spend the time diligently studying and practicing and remaining dedicated when no one else is watching to become successful at anything.
This same principle applies in flight departments. I often talk about the different between someone who is just a pilot compared to an aviation asset manager or flight department leader or a line mechanic compared with a director of maintenance. If you just fly an airplane and park it and walk away after a flight, you might be a safe competent pilot. You might be performing when the boss is watching. But, the difference of what that means to the future value of your asset, the flight department budget’s bottom line and dispatch reliability will be noticed later. If, however, you spend an extra few minutes cleaning the airplane, taking care of small problems so they don’t become big problems, organizing your records and taking those few extra steps in whatever the task, it will make a huge difference to your organization. And, that little extra time spent when you thought no one else was watching will be noticed later with a positive outcome.